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The Financial Future of Water Resource User Associations : The WRUA SERVICE AGREEMENT IS THE WAY TO GO!

A training module on strengthening transparency, accountability and participation in Water Resource Users Associations in Kenya

On the 6th March 2020, MKEWP held a stakeholders’ meeting in Nairobi to get their unified endorsement of a tool that the Partnership has been developing and promoting for the last two years – the WRUA Service Agreement.

The meeting was attended by key stakeholders in the water sector with over 30 representatives from different water conservation and management organizations in Kenya. All stakeholders agreed to a joint statement pronouncing their unanimous support and endorsement of the WRUA Service Agreement.

What’s a WRUA Service Agreement?

The WRUA Service Agreement is a contract between the WRUA and the WRA. It provides financial compensation for the functions performed by the WRUA, and thus gives the WRUA the financial resources to carry out their duties.

The county governments and WRA need organizations at ground level through which they can work. This is the importance of the WRUAs. WRUAs provide a vehicle that brings communities and water users together; and they also offer a platform that WRA and county governments can work through to better manage and conserve water resources.

However, most WRUAs struggle to operate and address water resource issues within their sub catchment levels due to lack of capacity, resources, and funds to run their operations and activities.

The management and control of water remains confusing in Kenya. There is a national agency – the Water Resources Agency (WRA), with the mandate to regulate the use, allocation, and planning of water resources. The WRA provide this service through regional water agencies. Our regional WRA is based in Nanyuki, Laikipia County for the upper Ewaso Basin.

Yet the general principle guiding water resources in sub-catchments is citizen management of water resources through the Water Resource Users Association. This unit of water management is supposed to be participatory and representative of all water users in the sub-catchment. These popularly elected groups are responsible for the monitoring and management of water resources according to plans approved by the WRA. They are also responsible for the riparian health of their sub-catchment.

Catchment management was devolved to the county governments as part of their responsibilities in soil and water conservation.

Both water and catchment management transcends the administrative boundaries of counties. The demand of these natural resource conservation and management functions is beyond the capacity of both the WRA and county governments – hence the importance of the WRUAs and a Service Agreement.

The WRUA Service Agreement is an important instrument that clarifies and structures the relationship between WRA and the WRUAs in terms of regulation and management of water resources. The WRUA becomes the true eyes and ears of the WRA and the action arm of county governments’ riparian responsibilities. It helps the WRA through the regular monitoring of river flows, data collection on legal and illegal abstraction, and it helps the county government in monitoring and managing the degradation of riparian areas and water pollution.

MKEWP is the catchment Partnership through which these Service Agreements can be piloted. The World Bank 2030 Water Resources Group and CORDAID continue to support the development of these WRUA Service Agreements.

The success of future water resources conservation and management lies in this model. These Agreements provide the incentive and means for WRUAs to take up their roles with responsibility and accountability – a WIN-WIN for water, catchments, and citizens in Kenya.

Many thanks to the World Bank 2030 Water Resources Group and CORDAID for the continued support


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